The Story of the Persistent Widow

Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor had respect for people. In that city there was a widow who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Grant me justice against my opponent.’ For a while he refused; but later he said to himself, ‘Though I have no fear of God and no respect for anyone, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will grant her justice, so that she may not wear me out by continually coming.’” And the Lord said, ‘ Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God grant justice to his chosen ones who cry to him day and night? Will he delay in helping them? I tell you, he will quickly grant justice to them. And yet, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Luke 18:1-8, NRSV

To be honest, parables have never made much sense to me. Even after they are explained, I still do not completely grasp the message. Yet, there is something about this parable of the persistent widow and unjust judge that grabs me…something I understand.

I picture Jesus sitting in a circle with his disciples telling the story of a widow asking a judge for what was rightly hers. The judge did not give the widow the time of day. He did not care about those most vulnerable or about what God thought. Day in and day out the judge went to work, and day in and day out, the widow showed up advocating for her rights. Finally, when the judge could not listen to her another minute longer, he granted what was due her.

Then the Master said, “Do you hear what that judge, as corrupt as he is, is saying? So what makes you think God won’t step in and work justice for his chosen people, who continue to cry out for help? Won’t he stick up for them? I assure you, he will. He will not drag his feet.”  The Message (Eugene Peterson)

How I admire the widow! I struggle to find my voice; she consistently spoke up for herself despite her situation. I give up at times when things get too difficult; she remained steadfast and refused to quit. I question my feelings and beliefs; she never changed her mind or thought herself unworthy. She persisted in her action and held on to hope. And in the end, an unlikely judge was just.

“But how much of that kind of persistent faith will the Son of Man find on earth when he returns?” The Message

I am grateful for Jesus’ words this Lent. He reminds me what is important: incessant prayer, eternal hope and persistent faith. When I find myself getting discouraged or feeling a bit hopeless and unworthy, I will think of the widow and remember that our God of justice hears me and stands up for me. If such unlikely characters as the judge and the widow could take action, why can’t I?

Offered by Heidi Marcotte, mission adventurer and truth seeker.

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Johnna

I am a Christian educator and writer.I have worked in churches, denominational offices, and seminaries. I have a PhD in Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, with a focus on Practical Theology and educating in faith. In 2010, my book, "How the Other Half Lives: the challenges facing clergy spouses and partners," was published by Pilgrim Press. I believe that words can build doorways that lead to encounters with God through the Spirit.

2 thoughts on “The Story of the Persistent Widow”

  1. Thanks for these insightful comments, Heidi. For me it’s sometimes difficult to determine if I’m committing to a worthy cause or a lost cause in which I’m just being pig-headed and need to move on. That’s where prayer becomes mighty handy for me. I need divine guidance to help determine when I need to stand fast and when I need to move on–am I just being stubborn, quixotic, too hopeful beyond what is realistic–or should I continue and help shape the reality to my hopes?? When I’m in such quandaries I need to remember to invite the Spirit into the decision-making process–problem is I forget all too often.

    1. Thanks, Heidi, for your words. And Bill, for your thoughts. Persistence that will lead to good things, or tilting at windmills? Prayer and discernment will tell…Peace, Johnna

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